In-book Purchases

Expanding reach and creating new revenue streams

We’re all familiar with the in-app purchase model. It’s a way to convert a free app into a revenue stream. In the gaming world it’s an opportunity to sell more levels even if the base product wasn’t free. Each of the popular ereader apps allow you to purchase books within them, of course, but why does it end there? What if you could make additional purchases within that ebook?

Here’s an example: I’m almost finished reading Walter Isaacson’s terrific biography of Steve Jobs. I paid $14.99 for the Nook version and as I’ve read it I’ve been tempted to go out to YouTube and relive some of the interviews and product launches Jobs did over the years. I didn’t do that though, mostly because it would have required me to close the ebook and search for the relevant video.

I would have paid an extra $5 for an enhanced version of the book with all the YouTube videos embedded (or linked to). Sell me the base edition for $15 and let me decide to upgrade to the richer version for an additional price. Even though everyone won’t necessarily upgrade why not make the option available to those who might?

My example is pretty simplistic but the lesson here is to think about how a single product can be re-deployed as multiple products. Think basic, enhanced and premium editions, each at different price points and upgradable to the next level. The most successful approach here is likely one where the basic edition is as inexpensive as possible and readers are given a compelling reason to upgrade to the enhanced and premium editions.

What do you think? Is this a viable model and can it be implemented in today’s walled gardens or will it have to wait till more ebooks are being sold direct to consumers by the publisher?

This post originally appeared on Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 Blog (“In-book Purchases“).

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